Nicola Pecoraro

Visitors to “The Wandering,” Nicola Pecoraro’s third solo show but his first in Rome, ideally should have experienced the exhibition with a sound track in the background, perhaps of the sort of electronic genre one hears a lot of now, a mix of natural elements and cold, synthesized sounds typical of the hybrid culture of our time. Pecoraro’s exhibition was similarly hybrid, not so much because he uses various media (painting, sculpture, photography, collage), but rather because of the ways in which the works suggest personal narratives or metaphors without falling back on the convention of the artist as a guarantor of meaning. The point was not what message Pecoraro has for the world. Rather, what emerged was the strength or authority of the object itself. And yet the effect was not so much sculptural as mental, calibrated to a single, precise frequency, again recalling a hypothetical musical accompaniment. Indeed, if the point of departure for the show was a personal quest for the sublime, well, what could be more sublime than music, the abstract art par excellence? But if one thinks that beginning with the sublime means searching for a way to avoid setting limits, then one risks not grasping the artist’s process. The search for a universal language that can be adapted to individual perception means approaching the unconscious, and to this end Pecoraro imposes constraints on his conscious control. He begins with a system of initial rules over which he has limited control, after which time steps in, like minerals that crystallize in nature—a condition to which more than one work in the show referred.

The three walls of the gallery were occupied in an orderly but heterogeneous fashion. One wall had a row of enameled wooden panels lined up on shelves. On the central wall were scattered small-scale sculptural works—though their proportions lent them a sense of monumentality—together with paintings on glass set on shelves attached to the wall. Arranged on the floor near the third wall was a series of found objects. The materials Pecoraro uses—wood, enamel, glass, terra-cotta, industrial solvents, wax, Formica, and so on—dance between the industrial and the organic, and the artist shows no interest in clarifying whether or not the works look toward the future or the past. But as varied as the materials may be, he often uses processes involving sedimentation or layering, requiring time to evolve naturally, a process to which synthetic materials respond in surprising ways. Moving within this mineral-vegetable state, the initial thrust is lyrical, but the outcome turns out to be that of decay.

It might be said that Pecoraro does not paint, but rather grants liberty to paint as a material so that it exceeds his control. The possibility of failure becomes a seductive agent. The resulting landscapes are articulated to varying degrees, seemingly science fictional, even if they might be nothing more than, for instance, a simple block of red wax whose form recalls Roman cobblestones (To Be Titled, 2009), or a series of objects/residua (rubble, rearview mirrors, stones) found while walking around. An attention to actual details merges imaginatively with the macroscopic, both generated by an anonymous urban space transformed into yet another landscape.

Francesco Stocchi

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.